Discerning Personal Vocation
A Course in Ethics Offered by Mary Seat of Wisdom Classical Community
Fall Semester, 2017 – Wednesday Evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Joshua Miller, Ph.D.
After looking at contemporary culture and its impact on vocational discernment, we consider how God uniquely designs each person and how that design orients his/her calling. We examine personal vocation as a distinctive but all encompassing call that includes the universal call to holiness, basic state in life, and daily circumstances. We help students learn effective discernment, grow in awareness of self-creative freedom, make critical life decisions, and foster the gifts of others. All along, we emphasize the fundamental objective of helping students identify, embrace, and live to the full their personal vocations.
- Introduction: “I am Vine, You are the Branches.” (September 13)
- Orientation to the course.
- Our current cultural climate – how it influences us and characterizes the world we will be serving.
Assignment: Students will research and prepare presentations on cultural topics that impact discernment of personal vocation.
- The Unique Design of Each Person: Seeds of Personal Vocation (September 20)
- Unique motivational design and each one’s call to image God through it.
- Design revealed through achievement stories
- Beginning the achievement story process
Assignment: Fill out Parts I & II of Autobiographical Form
- Today’s Vocational Culture. (September 27)
- Research based student presentations on aspects of our culture that impact personal vocation and discernment.
- What kind of soil are you? Exploration of John 15: 1-11.
Assignment: Read Introduction, Parts I & II of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity.
- What is Personal Vocation? (October 4)
- Distinctive and dynamic call that includes universal call to holiness and basic states in life. Personal Vocation is now.
- Role of the laity in sanctifying the world
Assignment: Complete Autobiographical Form, Part III.
- Cultivating the Personal Vocations of Others (October 11)
- Empathy, listening, paying attention.
- Sharing achievement stories with one another.
- Orientation to MCORE Assessment
Assignment: Take the MCORE Assessment.
- Complementarity of marriage and consecrated life (October 18)
- How the vocations to marriage and priesthood/religious life serve one another.
- What does it mean that the priesthood and religious life is a higher calling?
Assignment: Complete MCORE Report Exercises.
Individualized coaching begins on October 18th. SEE BELOW FOR DETAILS.
- Personal Vocation in Action (October 25)
- Stories of personal vocation
- Guest presentations
Assignment: Report on motivational design as reflection of God’s image.
- Called for Others – Considering the Needs of the World (November 1)
- Needs of the world as a trigger of calling
- Review of autobiographical narrative to identify the kinds of circumstances in which the person is most inclined to serve.
Assignment: Visit and encounter those whose needs could be met by your gifts.
- Keys to Discernment, Part I (November 8)
- First part of What Does God Want? A Practical Guide to Decision Making, by Father Michael Scanlan.
- Challenges to discernment and how to face them.
Assignment: To be determined.
- Determining Your Interests & Natural Abilities (November 15)
- Review of autobiographical narrative to identify natural abilities and interests
Assignment: Gratitude Letter (written and read out-loud and, preferably, in person to recipient)
- Keys to Discernment, Part II (November 29)
- Second part of What Does God Want? A Practical Guide to Decision Making, by Father Michael Scanlan.
- Self-creative freedom.
- Challenges to discernment and how to face them.
Assignment: Report on concrete decision made using keys to discernment.
- Cultivating Your Gifts to Make your Greatest Contribution (December 6)
- Exploring options for development: trade school, college, OJT, certifications.
- The value proposition of college. Is it worth it?
Assignment: Prepare presentation & final report
- Staying on Course: Effectively Living Your Calling (December 13)
- Living your present calling to the full
- Managing the shadow side of your gifts.
- Living so as to cultivate the callings of others
Assignment: Continue to prepare presentation & final report.
- “Go and Bear Fruit that will last.” (December 20)
- Each student gives a brief presentation on lessons learned.
Beginning on October 18th I will be holding individualized sessions of 45 minutes to review student MCORE Reports and provide vocation coaching. Each week from October 18th to December 20th I will conduct one session prior to class from 6 to 6:45 and another session from 8:45 to 9:30 after class. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU ARE SEATED AND READY TO START BY YOUR ALLOTTED TIME. I would like at least one parent present with his/her child during these sessions. A Google document sign up sheet will be provided at the beginning of the semester to accommodate parent and student schedules.
- In Class presentations. Each student will give two brief presentations of 3 to 5 minutes. One in Week 3, the Second in Week 14. (20% of grade)
- Quizzes. 2-4 quizzes given as needed. (10% of grade)
- Participation. Active engagement in discussion and, especially, listening to one another will be required. (20% of grade)
- Weekly Journal. Journal topics are associated with weekly assignments given above. (30%)
- End of the semester report. This will be a 3-5 page paper, normal font, double spaced, on lessons learned. (20%)
Code of Conduct
- The standard Mary Seat of Wisdom dress code for Study Center students will apply.
- Students will not be permitted to use their cell phones during class.
- Love one another! Students are expected to make every effort to see the face of Christ in one another.
- What Does God Want?: A Practical Guide to Making Decisions, Fr. Michael Scanlan with James Manney.
- Selections from the Bible
- Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity from the Second Vatican Council. (http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html)
- Additional small readings as needed or appropriate. (These would be provided in electronic form.)
- I can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Email correspondence between students and myself will have parents copied as co-recipients in keeping with MSWCC Child Protection Policy.
- Each student should secure a 1.5 inch wide three ring binder. This will hold worksheets given throughout the semester and the student’s vocation journal.
- Worksheets will be sent as electronic documents when assigned. They will need to be printed and returned, when due, in hard copy form.
A Praying Friend
- In addition to the books, assignments, & presentations each student must secure commitment from someone to pray for him or her during the course of the class. This person does not have to be an adult or a priest or a consecrated religious. The only requirement is that the “praying friend” sincerely and consistently intercede on behalf of the student to identify, embrace, and live to the full his or her personal vocation.
Note to Parents
Parents are the primary formators of their children, especially with regard to personal vocation. I will encourage students to communicate abundantly with their parents and seek their guidance. Further, I will not advise students regarding specific vocational choices, but serve as a coach by asking questions, listening, making observations, and helping them to grow in self-awareness and personal responsibility.